It was the meagre beginnings of Boson X, which is an intense, fast-paced rotational runner that takes place inside a giant particle collider and involves a university professor, elbow patches and all. You press and hold left, right and forward to jump across the gaps inside this spinning machine. Landing on the green paltforms adds more energy to the mix, while red platforms fall away and can result in having to restart.
How does one come up with such a bizarre idea? Simple steps.
Back then, Ian decided to prototype this 3D runner in about a week, with one of the main influences being Fotonica, but they wanted lateral movement too. This resulted in a flat piece of land that you could hop across to the left and right. Beyond that, they then started to experiment with different visual styles and power-ups, like being able to teleport or acquiring wings to fly around. But these were scrapped due to distracting from the core gameplay, a hard decision to make after time and effort had one into implementing them.
What Ian and Jon ended up with was a simple and clean 3D runner that involved hopping to the left and right as the terrain became more treacherous. It needed something else, though.
Inspiration came from a fairly unusual place. The discovery of the Higgs Boson, to be precise. Apparently, one had the idea for a particle physics theme, and as Ian has always been into popular science, they agreed to give it a shot.
Another piece of the puzzle was yet to come. At some point during the development of Boson X, Super Hexagon came out, and Ian fell in love with it. You can probably see the influence in the final result of Boson X.
“This game broke all the ‘rules’ for a successful iOS game. We then introduced the rotation mechanic and threw out the flat planes the player ran across. Our game also become faster and more challenging, and we added learnable patterns for each level (previously platforms were positioned mostly randomly). These changes were all influenced by Super Hexagon.”
Indeed, when I first spotted Boson X, my first point of comparison was Super Hexagon, so the influence is obvious. Having played the game a little myself, I can confirm that it does feel very much like playing a person shrunk down into the chaotic world of Super Hexagon. Trying to keep up with the constant spinning platforms that emerge just a little into the distance is testing on your reflexes, and it’s easy to make the wrong move under the pressure.
By turning Boson X into a rotational runner, its particle physics theme seemed to make even more sense, and they added the finer details of the game’s context. Having tested the game on desktop for ease, the pair thought it would be a waste to not release Boson X for Windows, Mac and Linux too. As this wasn’t their original intention for release, I presume that’s why they’re offering the desktop version of the game for free when it is available to download on August 30th.
The iOS version of Boson X will arrive on the App Store some time after that, but will be a paid app.